To me, the author of this post (James Welch), innovation isn’t only important in 2019, but in every month of every year for now until the end of time. A business that is not innovating is standing still at best, and most probably going backwards compared to leading competitors.
And it’s not just leading competitors that are innovating, it’s startups, too. And not only startups, but the key people in businesses that will turn their ideas into new startup businesses in the future.
If the innovative ideas, creativity, and thoughts of startups and key employees of competitors could be visualised, then almost every company on the planet would start to innovate more. The number of ideas, hours of thoughts and work would be scary indeed to almost all company owners.
But how does your business suddenly turn innovation on?
The answer is simple – there are people in your company right now with ideas that they simply don’t know what to do with, maybe feel that you don’t want to hear, or even think that they are too silly for anyone to hear. It is these people that should be heard.
A simple gathering of a few people from in the company, from the business owner, to a recent apprentice, could create the entire future of your business. You just don’t know it yet. What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe an hour of chatting that leads nowhere. But in all the meetings of such type I have had in my career, not one has ever ended fruitless. There is always something interesting to be found when a CEO hears various thoughts from around the business. A simple remark can turn into a ‘shower thought’, and then a thought in the car, and maybe one day, when a conversation with a spouse, a colleague, a business associate, and who knows, someone at a supermarket checkout line, can lead to an epiphany.
Make no mistake, this IS how new products, services, and businesses start. But as a human race, in general, we are too silly to realise that a conversation of disparate ideas, some perhaps silly, and some perhaps too serious, can make the difference between failure and success of the future.
Don’t force innovation, encourage it.
I have seen company’s put the moniker of ‘Innovator’ on just one person and say to them, “well, innovate, then!”. This is the same as sitting next to a comedian in a cafe and saying “well, be funny then!”. Whilst most innovation departments will start off with just one person, there should not be too much pressure placed upon them.
By all means, create the one-person department, but encourage them to spend time in all parts of the business, mixing with different personality types, hierarchy levels, and different offices/factories/warehouses, should you have them. Encourage them to spend time with buyers of your products and services, so that they can see how decisions are made before your company receives an order, a call, or an email. Ask them to spend time with your suppliers, too. Maybe a day spent with your search engine optimisation agency could bridge the gap between how your company sells versus what people actually search for.
What the competition are doing right now.
The leading companies will almost certainly be doing the things I mention in this post, if not a lot more, too. Some of the middle-ground companies will be dipping their toes in the water of an ‘innovation team’, calling it many different things. The startups that exist right now, and those that are going to be created in the next 12 months have ideas in abundance, and some will most definitely disrupt the marketplace in various ways.
These are all the reasons that you should be prioritising innovation for your business in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and beyond. Do it, you will NOT regret it.